Western Hunter Magazine July/August 2019 #70 - Page 71

Location and OTC tag options: In Arizona, most areas have multiple seasons: early, middle, late, and rut hunt. The first three seasons have easier- to-obtain tags, with many of the units or dates be- ing 100% draw odds. Often, tags are available as third and fourth-choice draws, with a few tags be- ing available OTC on a first-come/first-served basis after the draw. Most the leftover OTC tags are for areas near the Mexico border during the October season. Remaining tags can be obtained after draw results are available from a regional Game and Fish Department or by submitting an application. Archery Coues deer tags are available OTC at any time. The tags are good for the calendar year, with multiple open periods to hunt. You should look up the unit you’ll be hunting for exact season dates, but as an outline, the seasons generally start Janu- ary 1-31, then open again Aug. 23 – Sept. 12, and again Dec. 13-30. You can hunt all those season dates until you harvest, but you may only harvest one deer per calendar year. Good units along the Mexico border include 29, 30A, 30B, 34A, 34B, 35A, 35B, 36B, 36C, and 37A. These are red zones and require extra caution due to high border-crossing activity. Draw tag options: Arizona’s application date is around June 10. If you’re a rifle hunter, I suggest ap- plying for the draw rather than waiting for the OTC license. However, if you have missed the draw or just want to wait to see if you draw any other hunts, the leftover tags can be in some great units. I’ve had a lot of success in units with OTC Coues tags. New Mexico: While not OTC, Coues tags here are easily obtained for archery and muzzleloader seasons. Rifle tags during the rut can be a tough draw, but tags outside of the rut are easier to se- cure. New Mexico has some good deer, but lacks the number of top-end bucks found in Arizona. One of the top trophy areas tends to be Unit 22 (Burro Mountain) during the late season. The author with a Coues buck taken in Arizona. info@westernhunter.net Hunt tactics: Coues deer are a true spot-and- stalk game, where finding them is often the hard- est part. Thus, hunting is best done during the rut. The OTC archery hunt can be one of the best Coues hunts. With a long season over the best time of year, finding them is less of a challenge, but getting into bow range can prove to be difficult. Archery tags also generally include early season dates where velvet deer can be patterned and on waterholes. For rifle hunters, October seasons can be dif- ficult to find deer. This time of year, they are hun- kered down during daylight hours or living in thick cover. Lots of intense glassing is mandatory for success and good optics are a must. Concentrate on areas with thicker cover and more remote loca- tions. Some friends and I had a lot of success on one of these hunts by hunting the more roadless areas while putting in a lot of time behind the glass. We all managed to tag decent bucks. The average success rate across all the border units outside of the rut hunts is around 25%. Plan to work hard. A great week of Coues deer hunting with friends on the Arizona/Mexico border in an area that often has rifle tags available after the draw. Columbia Blacktail Deer Species profile: Although Columbia blacktail are similar to mule deer, they have distinguishing characteristics that make them easy to tell apart. The full-length black tail is the most obvious. The average blacktail has an ear span of about 17 inches. They stand 3-4 feet at the shoulder and weigh any- where from 100-230 lbs. True blacktails are coastal deer and can be found in California, Oregon, and Washington. Tag cost: Total cost including nonresident li- cense and tag: California – $468.10; Oregon – $597.50; Washington – $434.30. Location and OTC tag options: While mule deer tags in the better units are often a draw, those desiring to chase blacktails don’t have the same obstacles. Nearly all the blacktail tags across the three states include OTC tags as some of the best units available. Many of these areas have ample public land options, making this a great last-min- ute or post-draw hunt to plan. California: Northern California’s B-Zone is the leading trophy producer. This area holds some of the state’s highest deer populations. It’s also home to multiple national forests and wilderness areas including the Mendocino, Six Rivers, Klamath, and Shasta-Trinity National Forests. WESTERN HUNTER 71